Negotiations between HUCTW and management representatives on a new Agreement are continuing weekly. Although significant progress has been made on some important policy issues, such as remote/hybrid schedules and extra pay for extra work, our talks on the subject of pay increases continue to be very difficult.
HUCTW negotiators are continuing to press management representatives on the importance of pay increases that keep pace with inflation and the need to recognize our members’ commitment and talent with financial stability in an extremely challenging economic environment. In a recent session, Union leaders highlighted three important pieces of new factual information for University leaders, which further support our arguments for meaningful raises that provide members with real protection from inflation:
INFLATION CONTINUES TO STAY HIGH
New CPI Report released in October
A new report on the Consumer Price Index came out from the US Department of Labor on October 13 and the numbers were not encouraging. Annual price inflation in the Boston area and nationally continued to hover around 7 to 8 percent in September, as it has for most of the past year. For HUCTW members—who have been struggling with the real world impact of sustained price increases on rent, food, utilities, and more—this is just further confirmation that inflation remains extraordinarily high. After living with high inflation rates for over a year, we cannot look at these new numbers and feel any kind of confidence that “normal” significantly lower inflation is coming back any time soon.
HARVARD’S FINANCIAL POSITION IS STRONG
University’s FY2022 Financial Report
The University released its financial report on October 13 for the year that ended on June 30, 2022 – and the bottom-line numbers were impressive. Harvard’s $406 million dollar budget surplus that was reported last week was a surprisingly positive result to many in the community. In a very thorough analysis in the Harvard Magazine, editor John Rosenberg explained that “the accumulated black ink for the three years shadowed by COVID-19 totals more than 900 million dollars, an astounding sum compared to fears at the beginning of the pandemic.” Rosenberg also wrote that “the University has seemingly emerged from the pandemic in an incredibly strong financial position.”
HIGHEST SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT INCREASE IN 40 YEARS
SSA announces benefit increase directly tied to historically high inflation
The third important new data point that we shared with University administrators was the announcement from the federal government’s Social Security Administration that 70 million American retirees will receive an 8.7 percent increase in their Social Security benefits in January. That increase is based entirely on the Consumer Price Index or CPI. In other words, when the federal government of the United States is trying to ensure fairness, stability, and financial security for tens of millions of Americans hoping to live in a safe and dignified way through their retirement years, the formula that the federal government relies on ties benefit increases directly to inflation.
HUCTW negotiators remain deeply committed to the idea that a fair raise program needs to provide meaningful protection against price inflation. We are determined to continue pressing Harvard administrators to show more respect for the real damage that’s being done to members’ financial stability and quality of life from high inflation and show more commitment to substantial, tangible support for hard-working HUCTW members in the face of those pressures.